Martin Kaymer had a six-shot lead entering the third round of the US Open Championship, and after a 2-over par 72, the best that can be said for those players chasing him is that things are just a bit tighter after Saturday’s play. Kaymer did better than most on a round which was played over a fast, dry Pinehurst No.2 golf course with pin positions less accessible than front row seats at a Justin Bieber concert.
Only two golfers—Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton—broke par for the day, but each of them did it in a big way, shooting matching 3-under par 67s. It is no coincidence Fowler and Compton are tied for second place, and they are the two golfers with the best chance of overtaking the juggernaut named Martin Kaymer on Sunday in the final round.
Fowler has been training under Butch Harmon for six months and is striking the ball better than ever, making five birdies and two bogeys on the day. He said after the round, however, that he did not have his best day off the tee, “I didn’t drive it very well. I got it around and made sure I stayed out of trouble. I definitely got a lot out of the round, made some good putts. I’m definitely looking forward to getting out here tomorrow…get the driver going back straight and see if we can get the ball in the fairway a little bit more tomorrow.”
Even though he trails the leader by five strokes, Erik Compton is becoming one of the biggest stories in the 2014 US Open Championship. The 34-year-old from Coral Gables, FL has undergone two heart transplants in his life, one in 1992 and the other in 2008. He has no PGA Tour wins, and only one other appearance in a major–US Open in 2010. To no one’s surprise, Compton is thankful just to be on the golf course, “It’s very special when I’m out there. When I look around and realize where I have been…it shouldn’t matter. I’m just happy to be able to play golf,” he told the Golf Channel when he was done with Saturday’s round. On a special stage like the US Open Championship, he added, he sometimes has to pull himself back into the moment, “It is something that I carry with me, and it gives me a lot of strength when I do have moments when I…get emotional for a second, but it’s right back to hitting the ball and getting the ball back in the hole.” Compton was awarded the PGA’s inaugural Courage Award this year.
For Sunday, it will be Kaymer’s tournament to win or lose. The 29-year-old German golfer, who idolized Bernhard Langer growing up, played himself out of trouble time after time on Saturday, saving pars and even bogeys in situations in which US Open leads would normally disintegrate, “A lot of things were happening today, but I think I kept it very well together, even though I didn’t hit as many great shots as I did yesterday and Thursday.” After a 2-over 72, things are a bit tighter at the US Open Championship, but Kaymer still leads by five. He realizes, however, it will not be easy on Sunday, “The challenge tomorrow will be to keep going, and not try to defend anything, because if you try to defend, you’re not free enough, you don’t swing as free.”
Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson are both six strokes back and tied for fourth at 2-under heading into the final round of the US Open Championship. Brandt Snedeker is at 1-under, and Matt Kuchar, Kevin Na and Brooks Koepka are all at even par. Rickie Fowler will play with Martin Kaymer in the final group on Sunday.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky